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Integrated procedure for environmental, building and retail permits in Flanders

Are you planning construction works in Flanders? Will your activities have an impact on the surrounding environment? Will you be carrying out retail activities? In all cases, you need to follow the integrated environmental procedure, which unites the former processes for obtaining urban planning permissions, environmental permits and retail permits into one application.

Environmental impact

A permit is also required to authorize a number of specific activities and establishments depending on their environmental impact:

  • Category III activities only require prior notification to the competent authorities.
  • Category I and category II activities are subject to a permit.

For both categories, similar approval procedures are applied and involve an assessment of the potential impact on the environment such as noise, air and water pollution, waste disposal and efforts to prevent major accidents.

Construction works

For most construction, demolition and renovation works, you will have to go through the integrated procedure to obtain an urban planning permit. This is also a requirement if you wish to build a parking lot, cut down trees or modify the use of buildings. Minor changes to existing buildings and small construction works, however, generally do not require an urban planning permit.

Retail activities

Commercial branches with a net commercial surface area exceeding 400 square meters are subject to a permit that authorizes retail activities (formerly known as ‘socioeconomic permit’). The net commercial surface (including surfaces without roof coverings) used for the sale of goods and publicly accessible is the standard for a permit.

How to apply for the integrated permit

The integrated permit (called ‘omgevingsvergunning’) combines the urban planning, environmental and retail permits. Obtaining one for your professional activities in Flanders requires:

  • a single application through the online desk ‘Omgevingsloket’;
  • public inquiry;
  • consultation round and decision from the competent authority.

Because the application file is complex, it is advisable to have it prepared by specialists. The required information about the planning and permit status of a plot of land or existing business premises can be obtained by requesting an urban planning excerpt (called ‘stedenbouwkundig uittreksel’ in Dutch) at the competent municipal office.

In some municipalities, this still needs to be done by requesting town planning information (referred to as ‘stedenbouwkundige inlichtingen’ in Dutch).

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